Depending on whether they're working, ski-touring skins are either the greatest winter invention since snowballs or only slightly more fun than an avalanche. Here are five ways to keep your skins in the game.
1. In patchy sunlight, snow can stick to skins like north Idaho gumbo on a mudflap. If you're headed for forested terrain, rub paraffin wax or Black Diamond's Glop Stopper ($10; bdel.com) on them. BD's spray-on version, called Free Glide GTX Spray ($11), soaks into the hairs and lasts for several outings.
2. Keep 'em cleanespecially the tails, which are most prone to failure. When stowing skins on windy days, avoid a tangled mess by using the top of your shin as a fulcrum around which to fold them (figure A).
3. You know those mesh divider sheets that came with the skins? Pack them. They won't really add weight to your load, and they'll increase glue life by a factor of ten.
4. Reglue. Professional regluing runs about $50. To do it yourself, tack the skin to a board, then remove the old glue by ironing it through a brown paper sack (figure B); the paper absorbs the glue. Once all the glue is off, apply a new glue sheet, like BD's Glue Renew Transfer ($25), and iron it through contact paper. The ideal temperature is between "wool" and "cotton" on your mom's iron. (Tip: Don't try and press a dress shirt afterwards.) The base is ready when the glue turns dark gray.
5. On skis with rounded tails and twin tips, the skins' tail clip can sometimes slide off sideways. Notching the tail with a file or Dremel rotary tool (dremel.com) will both solve the problem and, alas, void your skis' warranty. We suspect manufacturers are working on a solution, and there will likely be a riveted retention system or a twin-tip-specific clip available soon.
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